Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman Found Dead in Manhattan Apartment

philip-seymour-hoffman-picture-2Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead Sunday afternoon in his New York City apartment, a law-enforcement official said.

The New York Police Department is investigating, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine exact cause of death. The official said Mr. Hoffman, 46 years old, was found dead at his apartment at 35 Bethune St. in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan.

Mr. Hoffman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 2005 film, “Capote.”

Posted On 02 Feb 2014

Report: Masahiro Tanaka to Yankees for $155 million



Via Paul White – USA Today Sports

Masahiro Tanaka is headed to the New York Yankees, who are once again spending money with the determination of years past.

Fox Sports is reporting that the prize of this winter’s free-agent class has agreed to terms on a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees, the latest move in a winter of wild spending for the club.

Between outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, catcher Brian McCann and now Tanaka, the Yankees have expended $438 million in an effort to return to dominance.

That doesn’t include the $20 million posting fee the Yankees must pay to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, Tanaka’s team in Japan.

And though Tanaka has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues, the Yankees did not hesitate to offer him the fifth-largest contract ever for a pitcher.

Their agreement with Tanaka also comes less than two weeks after they had $25 million of 2014 payroll freed with 162 games of slugger Alex Rodriguez’s suspension upheld by an arbitrator.

And it also comes during a period in which the Yankees hoped to duck under Major League Baseball’s $189 million luxury tax threshold to avoid paying significant penalties.

Enter Tanaka, whose signing will effectively destroy those hopes.

The 25-year right-hander makes the move after the most remarkable pitching season in Japanese pro history — 24-0 with a 1.27 earned run average and Pacific League MVP for the Japan Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles last season.

His overall numbers in Japan were comparable – even better when compared with league averages at the time – than Yu Darvish, the Texas Rangers ace who’s easily the best pitcher the Japanese leagues have sent to North America.

Not quite as overpowering as Darvish, Tanaka still has the pitch selection that – barring injury – makes him a prime candidate for a long-term deal.

He also has great flexibilty: Fox Sports reports the deal includes an opt-out clause after four years, which means Tanaka can cash in even more should he find success in the major leagues.

So, you might not see the Darvish fastball, but it’s still a good one. And think Koji Uehara’s splitter plus an above-average slider.

Tanaka doesn’t come to North American with the rock-star persona Darvish had cultivated in Japan, but the next Japanese ace has the necessary baseball credibility at home to arrive with special status.

When Japanese media members were discussing during last year’s World Series – and Boston closer Koji Uehara’s suddenly elevated status — the hero-level status of Japanese players who have come to the major leagues, they often referred to “Koshien.”

That’s the annual Japanese national high school tournament held at Koshien Stadium, the iconic home of the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Central League. Once a star in that tournament, a Japanese player has legendary status.

Count Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka on that list. Darvish’s team never won the tourney but he achieved a lesser level of notoriety for a no-hitter in one of the four years he was in the competition.

Tanaka didn’t win either, but is a big part of the lore.

In 2006, he entered the championship game as a reliever in the third inning and pitched through the 15th, when the 1-1 game was stopped, requiring a replay the next day. Tanaka relieved in the first inning the next day after his team fell behind 1-0 and finished the game without allowing a run. Winning pitcher Yuki Saito – who now plays for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters but missed most of last season with shoulder problems – pitched all 24 innings for his team and struck out Tanaka to end the second game.

High workloads at an early age for Japanese pitchers remain a underlying concern for major league teams considering long-term contracts. For every Darvish, who hasn’t pitched fewer than 182 innings since 2006, there’s a Saito, who has 39 career games as a pro.

Tanaka, who often goes by the nickname Makun to teammates, has averaged 188 innings in his seven years since turning pro out of high school and none of those seasons was more spectacular than 2013. His combined record over the past three seasons is 53-9 with a 1.44 ERA and 583 strikeouts and 78 walks in 511 innings.

Posted On 22 Jan 2014

An Action Plan for Handling Stress

stress-pencil-croppedStress can take a physical and emotional toll, so be prepared to address it head-on.



Stress is on the rise for a lot of Americans, and more than half of us don’t feel like we’re getting the support we need to handle it. Why are so many people stressing out — and what can they do?

According to a Stress in America survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 1 out of 5 Americans reports feeling extreme levels of stress and more than a third say that their stress has gone up in the past year. Among the leading causes of stress are money, work, family and health issues. Even children aren’t exempt — a new study from Auburn University and the Catholic University of America looks specifically at stress in kids caused by marital conflicts at home.

Many people think of being stressed “as a normal state of being, even though I would argue it’s not,” said Dr. Lynn Bufka, a licensed clinical psychologist, APA’s assistant executive director for practice research and policy, and a member of APA’s Stress in America team. “We don’t necessarily think about how we can do something differently and address this head-on.”

But it does need to be addressed. Stress can have a very real impact on a variety of body systems, from the cardiovascular system to muscles. “There’s often also a physiological reaction in addition to the mental experience of feeling stressed,” said Bufka. “And that may manifest itself in terms of headaches, or stomachaches, or muscle tension.”

So what should you do? For starters, don’t wait for the stress to get to you. “There’s positive things that we can do,” as Bufka points out, “but when we’re feeling stressed we may not always think of those things, so it’s helpful to have a plan in advance.”

Studies have shown that any kind of exercise, from high-energy activities to yoga, can help. “When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that fight stress,” said Frank Lupin, MS, ATC, PES, a certified athletic trainer and a personal trainer for Coordinated Health in Bethlehem, Pa.

Some other healthy tips for managing stress: Eat well-balanced meals, limit alcohol and caffeine intake, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

People should also consider what the source of their stress is, and whether or not they feel it’s at a manageable level. “It’s when our ability to cope with stressful events exceeds what we have to offer…or when it starts interfering with our functioning and our ability to work or be a student or be a parent,” said Bufka. “That’s when we really need to think…maybe I might need some additional support from a professional.”

The problem is that more than half of Americans feel that their healthcare provider offers little or no support to manage their stress, according to the Stress in America survey.

“When people receive professional help to manage stress and make healthy behavior changes they do better at achieving their health goals,” says American Psychological Association CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD. “Unfortunately, our country’s health system often neglects psychological and behavioral factors that are essential to managing stress and chronic diseases.”

In many cases, stress just isn’t covered during a typical patient visit, either because of the briefness of the visit or because it’s focused on a specific patient complaint. Bufka suggests that “patients do themselves a good service by going in knowing the questions they want to ask.”

When a patient does raise stress as an issue, some physicians may simply not feel that they can adequately address it. Doctors also may not recognize that a patient is overly stressed and needs help.

If you can’t identify what’s causing your stress or if it persists and starts interfering with your daily life, then speak to your doctor. Ask them about what treatment options, such as therapy or medication, may be available. If your doctor can’t help, they should be able to refer you to someone who can.

Posted On 16 Jan 2014

Bad Health Habits Don’t Change, Even After a Health Crisis

We are creatures of habit, especially bad habits. New research shows even a crisis like a heart attack or a stroke is not enough to get many of us to shape up.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta via Health Matters

We all think we could break a bad habit if we had to. That smokers’ excuse “I can quit anytime,” holds for all our bad habits: “I can start exercising any time” and “I’ll eat better tomorrow.”

But a study out of Canada has some sobering news: Even a brush with death is often not enough to get us to make better choices.

Researchers studied more than 150,000 people from all around the world, rich and poor, urban and rural. Participants answered questions about exercise, diet, and smoking.

Because the group was so large, there were almost 8,000 participants who had survived either a heart attack or a stroke. Thehealth habits of this group were startling.

Only 39 percent reported improving their diet, and just 35 percent increased their physical activity. Of those who were smokers, only 52 percent quit.

Just 4 percent of those 8,000 people improved their habits in all three areas: smoking, diet, and exercise.

Posted On 13 Jan 2014